Dubai: The third Emirates Airline Festival of Literature officially opened Tuesday, with performances from more than 500, including school children and authors.
Shaikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), which supports the event, attended the varied display by more than 500 performers, including school children from around the UAE and festival authors.
“The vision of our Lit Fest is to be all-inclusive and to provide as wide a range of writers and genres as possible so that everyone who comes along will find a session or maybe 10 sessions that will delight and entertain them, whilst at the same time engaging their brains. Everything at our festival is live, and you feel alive being part of it,” Isobel Abulhoul, Festival Director said at the opening ceremony.
“At the very heart of our festival is a need, an ambition, to take non-readers and turn them into people who derive enjoyment from books. I believe we need to help as many people as possible through that magic door into the world of books and enjoyment. I hope that our festival will bring that about for many, many people over the next few days. Every single person here can assist in the fight against illiteracy,” she said.
The Emirati Youth Choir opened the ceremony, at the Cultural and Scientific Association, Al Mamzar, with a performance of the haunting “Pearl Divers Song”. Aerial performance artists swooped across the stage to the rhythm of the traditional drums, taking the audience back to a time when pearl divers collected oysters from the sea bed.
The participation of the community in the annual event is very important, and gives the younger generation opportunities to formulate creations that distinguish the city, Mohammad Al Murr, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority said at the ceremony.
Al Murr is also a writer and will be appearing at the Lit Fest.
Poets Dha’en Shaheen and Roger McGough recited poems written especially for the opening ceremony by them, before author Michael Morpurgo spoke about the theatre adaptation of his book “War Horse”.
The Emirates Airline choir performed two songs, conducted by Stuart Squire.
“I came here 33 years ago and have seen decades of change in Dubai, all for the good. The performance is a reminder of the hardships the pearl divers had to endure. The pearl divers had to stay underwater for five minutes and didn’t survive to 40 years old,” Sir Maurice Flanagan, Chairman, Emirates Airline, said at the ceremony.
“I’m delighted that such distinguished authors are here,” he said.
Emirates steward and former music teacher Yousuf Khan composed the Lit Fest anthem, this year entitled “The Mystery”, which was performed by 350 primary school students.
The students comprise the Massed Primary School Choirs of Dubai and were combined school choirs from the Dubai English Speaking School; English College Primary School; JSS International School; Own English High School; Repton School; Royal Dubai School; and Star International School.
The first sell-out Gala Evening, with guests Michael Palin and Wole Soyinka, was held Tuesday night, and Wednesday features Margaret Atwood, Simon Armitage, Nathalie Handal, Dha’en Shaheen, Yang Lian, Benjamin Zephaniah and music from the Dubai Sinfonia.
Abulhoul concluded: “Some thoughts I would like to leave with you today are: No skill is more crucial to the future of a child, than literacy; Literacy is not a luxury, but an essential skill; At the heart of our festival is the goal of improving literacy through celebration; You can help ‘spread the word’.”
Visitors searched for:
- Dubai literature festival
- stuart squire repton dubai